Burj Khalifa, Dubai – National Geographic Megastructures (with Video)

Play button to watch the video. Burj Khalifa, known as Burj Dubai before its inauguration, is a megatall skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the tallest artificial structure in the world, standing at 829.8 m (2,722 ft).

Construction of Burj Khalifa began in 2004, with the exterior completed in 2009. The primary structure is reinforced concrete. The building opened in 2010, as part of the new development called Downtown Dubai. It is designed to be the centerpiece of large-scale, mixed-use development. The decision to build the building is reportedly based on the government's decision to diversify from an oil-based economy, and for Dubai to gain international recognition. The building was named in honor of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Abu Dhabi and the UAE government lent Dubai money to pay its debts. The building broke numerous height records.


Burj Khalifa was designed by Adrian Smith then of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), whose firm also designed the Willis Tower and the One World Trade Center. Hyder Consulting was chosen to be the supervising engineer with NORR Group Consultants International Limited chosen to supervise the architecture of the project. The design of Burj Khalifa is derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture, incorporating cultural and historical elements particular to the region such as the spiral minaret. The Y-shaped plan is designed for residential and hotel usage. A buttressed core structural system is used to support the height of the building, and the cladding system is designed to withstand Dubai's summer temperatures. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed, with the elevators having a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cabin.

The islands were designed as part of the plan to develop tourism in Dubai against the eventual depletion of the emirate's oil reserves, which are expected to be depleted in the second decade of the 21st century. The goal is to become one of the biggest areas in the world for tourism as a means of diversifying the economy.

Aerial view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah Island
Burj Khalifa, World Tallest Skyscraper Credit: Photo by vizts

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